One of the best loved of Shakespeare’s ‘middle comedies’, As You Like It has rarely been out of the theatrical repertoire. Centring on the cross-dressed figure of Rosalind, the play both celebrates and questions the state of being in love. Recent scholarship has, however, located darker currents in the play, which have in turn influenced aspects of the play – its awareness of issues that have been elided in subsequent, simply ‘romantic’ readings. Using an innovative theory of the significance of the Globe’s stage space, Penny Gay examines the play’s presentation of issues of power, sexuality, gender and genre. The famous line, ‘All the world’s a stage’ is an indicator of the play’s striking self-consciousness, a clue to its interest in performance and performativity, and to the radical potential of theatre to destabilize the conventions with which it operates. The book concludes with an analysis of some recent productions which take up these themes.
Penny Gay is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Sydney, where she also teaches in Performance Studies. Her book As She Likes It: Shakespeare’s Unruly Women (1994) was the first feminist study of the performance history of Shakespeare’s comic heroines, and she has since published separate studies of The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew.
216 × 138 mm
June 1, 1999
Writers and their Work